Why didn't prisoner rights come home?

Scott, David (2010). Why didn't prisoner rights come home? Criminal Justice Matters, 82(1) pp. 36–37.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09627251.2010.525937


The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) received royal assent on 9 November 1998 and came into force ten years ago on 2 October 2000. The government rhetoric surrounding the introduction of the HRA included a commitment to ‘bring rights home’ and develop a ‘rights culture’ for the benefit of all people, including prisoners. Yet in terms of providing an impetus for a culture of rights in state institutions such as the prison, the HRA has proved to be somewhat of a damp squib. When we ask the question ‘why didn’t prisoner rights come home’ at least part of the answer can found through the recognition that from the start the HRA was shackled within a wider context of responsibilisation and minimalism. Evidence of its historically restrictive interpretation by the Prison Service can be indentified in two main ways: (1)assessment of existing policies and the level of training available prior to implementation and (2) the reassuring messages sent to staff via official discourse.

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